Gretchen is the angel
Of the Homelessness Prevention Program.
She rescues people and animals
And keeps them together.

For people whom other people have let down,
A pet’s love is healing.
There’s no need to equivocate,
To justify themselves,
Or apologize for shortcomings.

People who’ve experienced
The intense communication
Between pet and human
Don’t need to be convinced
Of the worth of Gretchen’s work.

Those who are old, sick, poor,
Down on their luck and losing their homes,
Along with them lose everything else—
Their worldly goods,
The place and things that define them,
The habits they’ve grown,
Their sense of sinking roots in the earth.

“You’re the only one I’ve spoken to
Who’s brought me hope,”
Said Joan to Gretchen,
Faced with losing her cat
After losing her lover to cancer,
Then her lover’s apartment.
“I don’t know how I’d go on
Without Babycakes.”